Thursday August 6, 2015. Day 10 of the first leg of my Dragoman tour, and we find ourselves in the remote Andes village of Chugchillan, perched on the slopes of Rio Toachi Canyon.We are staying at the Cloud Forest Hostel, and my roomie and I have the best room with a very warm fireplace.
It was a sunny, but cold and windy day in Quilotoa, an Andes village with an active volcano that last erupted 850 years ago. We started our day at her famous volcanic crater lake.
Given we were at an altitude of 3800 metres (12,400 feet), there was no chance I was going to attempt the hike down, even with the option of donkeys at an extra fee to carry you back up. But I did trek part of the trail down to view the crater lake from two rocky outcrops, which is worth doing, just to give you a different perspective. The shape, size and colour were beautiful.
We started our hike back to the village of Chugchillan from Quilotoa, a 10.24km trek along the northern part of the Quilotoa Loop. At sea level, I wouldn’t consider this distance or terrain difficult, but I found the uphill climbs tough as a result of altitude, and the down hill sections slow due to my crappy knees. So the key to success for me was small steps at a slow and and steady pace, and the use of some hiking poles.
The Andes landscape as we trekked along was beautiful. We had the crater lake in view at the start of the trek, climbing up to reveal the valley around.